The "6 P's" of Professional Crafting
By joining forces with other crafters, you
could become an entrepreneur without the headaches of going it alone.
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make the decision to go into "business," you need time not only for
making what you're going to sell, but also for pricing, packaging,
promoting and selling. Often crafters don't realize how much work
is involved. It's best to face facts before making a major commitment
in time and/or money. Talk to others who are successful, and also
those who have failed. Learn from their experience, so you won't have
to make all the mistakes yourself.
Finding an outlet
If you are still determined, then try selling to friends, family
and coworkers first. There's no overhead and less commitment than
doing craft shows. Plus, it helps establish a price range and determines
whether there's a market for your product. But, eventually, if sales
go well, you'll want to expand your customer base, increase profits,
and move on to bigger and better things.
So where should you sell? Craft malls, consignment stores,
seasonal boutiques, craft shows—the list goes on. Craft selling
opportunities abound today, especially with computers. Every day
a new on-line shopping mall surfaces beckoning you to sell your
wares on the web. This can be a great way for you to test market
products. If you shop around, it can cost as little as $10 a month.
There's usually a set-up fee and a percentage of sales may go to
the store. Be sure you understand all charges before you sign any
If the mall processes credit cards, handles sales taxes,
and has a convenient method for shopping (like a virtual shopping
cart system), then it might be worth trying. But be prepared to
give it at least six months (at $10 a month that's only $60.00).
It takes time for shoppers to get to know you.
A winning combination
By joining forces with other crafters, you could become an entrepreneur
without the headaches of going it alone. Crafters like crafting,
but as a rule they don't particularly like the business end. In
a mall, the store has the responsibility of paying the sales tax,
collecting the money and dealing with the customers. You get to
spend more time at home doing what you love to do most - make more
crafts. It's much like renting space in any crafter's mall, only
you ship the merchandise to the customer after they order it, so
your inventory doesn't have to be as large.
The mall has the responsibility of advertising, promoting, and
merchandising your crafts. The more traffic the mall gets, the more
crafts are sold, and then more crafters want to join the mall. Word
of mouth on the internet works better than it does in the "real"
world. Email disseminates information faster than the grapevine
or party line telephones used to, and everyone benefits.
Be sure to shop around for a mall that fits you and your
product. If you make hand-crafted items, there are advantages to
joining a mall selling handmade items exclusively, so you aren't
competing with low-cost imports. Cruise around the mall and try
ordering something. Find out how they treat their customers.
Here are the 6 P's.
Even if you plan to sell through a craft mall or blended boutique
where the store owner collects the sales taxes, you should obtain
a Resale Certificate and order your supplies in bulk. The money
you save by purchasing materials wholesale will increase your profit
Plan to make at least six to twelve items at a time and work in
assembly line fashion doing repetitive tasks all at once. This will
increase your overall profit by decreasing the time it takes you
to make an item and you can therefore make more inventory in less
Consider purchasing professional looking price tags or labels
with your name imprinted on them, or use your computer to make some
sort of hang tag that creates an "image" for your line of products.
This encourages customers to contact you for special orders and
they get your advertisement each time they buy one of your products.
Comparison shopping helps you keep your prices within a fair market
value. You need to be competitive, but don't undervalue your time
and talent. People do appreciate quality, so if your goods are exceptional,
don't be afraid to ask a better price for them than mass produced
Advertising pays, and you pay for advertising. But in some cases,
a small ad touting your collectible cats in a cat-lovers magazine
will do wonders to increase your sales. Co-op ads save money because
the cost is divided between the people involved. If you sell in
a craft store that does direct mail advertising, be sure to give
them a copy of your mailing list to add to theirs. Let your customers
know where to see your crafts. Be sure to use your internet address
on all written material and in all print advertising.
Always do what you say you will. If you promise to deliver a special
order this week, do it. And don't promise what you cannot deliver.
Taking an order for 100 stuffed animals for a department store when
you have doubts you can do it is not only foolhardy, it is unprofessional.
Don't be afraid to say, "no thank you" or "I'm sorry, I can't do
that." People will appreciate your honesty and might come back another
time with a different request - maybe one you can fulfill.
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Penny Stewart has been a professional crafter for several
years selling her decorative tole painted pieces in boutiques, craft
malls, consignment shops, beauty salons, and craft shows. After
displaying her painted furniture and crafts in Crafty Lady Boutique
for over a year, Stewart purchased the store and became "The Crafty
Lady." Her Crafty Lady Boutique Shopping Mall on the interenet opened
almost simultaneously. Two years later, she closed the "real:" store
(due to increasing overhead and sales costs) and now devotes her
time exclusively to selling on the internet. Some people know her
better by one of her other nicknames - ‘The Cat Lady," because she
paints and sells cat rocks and teaches classes in rock painting,
"The Pink Gypsy" because she belly dances in her spare time, and
Captain of "Web Space Nine," her computer consulting and web design
business with a Star Trek theme.
Crafty Lady Boutique
PHONE: 626 289 7609 FAX: 626 289 2994
Snail Mail: P O Box 1846, San Gabriel, CA 91778